In a large bowl or the bowl of your stand mixer, combine 1½ cups flour, white sugar, salt and undissolved yeast.
While beating slowly, drizzle in warm water. Mix by hand for 4 minutes, or with stand mixer on medium speed for 2 minutes. Scrape bowl as needed.
Add ½ cup flour and beat rapidly by hand for 3 minutes, or with stand mixer on high for 1 minute, scraping bowl.
Stir in enough remaining flour to make a soft dough, usually around 2 cups. If you're adding flavors, now is the time to mix them in.
Turn onto lightly floured board and knead until smooth and elastic (around 10 minutes), or knead with the stand mixer for 5 minutes.
Place dough in UNGREASED bowl, cover with a clean dish towel and let rise in warm, draft-free place for 25 minutes. (Note: dough will not double in size!)
Punch down dough and turn onto a lightly floured board.
Lightly shape dough into a rounded 12-inch long log.
Cut 12 equal-sized slices from the dough log. Push your thumb through the center of each slice to make a hole, and use your fingers to shape the dough around the hole into something that looks like a bagel.
Place on a lightly floured baking board and cover with a clean kitchen towel. Let rise in warm, draft free place for 20 minutes. (Note: dough will not double in size!)
While dough rises, fill a large shallow pan with water up to 2 inches in depth. Bring to boil, and stir in brown sugar.
Also while dough rises, preheat oven to 375 F.
Lower heat on stove to a simmer, then add 3 bagels to water at a time. Simmer for 3 minutes, flip, and simmer for an additional 3 minutes.
Remove bagels from water with slotted spoon and place on a rack to cool.
Grease two cookie sheets or line with Silpat mat.
When all bagels have cooled for 5 minutes, transfer them to cookie sheets, keeping them around 1 inch apart.
Bake bagels at 375 F for 10 minutes.
While bagels bake, combine egg white and 1 tbsp. cold water in small bowl.
Remove bagels from oven and brush with egg white mixture. (Note: if you want to top your bagels with onion flakes, poppy seeds, garlic powder, Kosher salt or other goodies, now's the time.)
Return bagels to oven and bake an additional 20 minutes, until golden brown.
Remove bagels from oven and cool on wire rack.